Thames Audio and Shure redefine the possibilities of Live Sound

Thames Audio use Shure Wireless systems to push the boundaries for Lord Mayor’s Show 

Installing live sound for large outdoor events can often present a  number of logistical hurdles – especially when the event is London’s  Lord Mayor’s Show. The celebrations include a 6,000 strong procession of  marching bands, floats and carriages, which is followed by live music  on the Thames – and in the case of the 2010 Lord Mayor’s Show, the live  music was actually presented from a floating stage in the middle of the  Thames.

The annual event is rounded off with a spectacular firework display  that’s enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Londoners and tourists alike  from both banks of the Thames between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars.

For the 2010 event Thames Audio’s Pete Cox was called upon to design a  sound system that could not only deliver audio to the vast site but  could also overcome the logistical constraints of a busy capital city,  as Pete is happy to explain…

“This year Event Organiser Rob Mills wanted a slightly different  twist to the audio side of the event. Traditionally installations have  consisted of a series of speaker masts along the full length of the  river bank, which takes many hours to install and is very  crew-intensive. The site itself crosses the boundaries of four local  authorities and so creating a method that suits all parties can be a  headache.”

“The solution was to disperse the system across a number of floating  pontoons held ‘on-point’ along the river. This meant that we only had to  liaise with one body of governance – The Port of London Authority – who  control operations on the river.”

“The system could be viewed as three separate areas. First we needed a  signal path from the floating stage to the control position onboard the  HMS Wellington. From here we needed to distribute the audio to the  speaker pontoons, which were up to 400m away on the opposite side of the  river. This, of course, meant that traditional cable runs were simply  not an option.”

“In order to combat the cabling issue, Shure Distribution equipped us  with a pair of PSM-900 IEM systems to act as a main and back-up  transmitter. One of the features of the PSM-900 is that you can perform  point-to-point link-up with a UHF-R receiver.”

“So at each speaker position we located an amplifier rack complete  with a Shure UR4D receiver, which gave us the ability to distribute the  signal across the site without worrying about cabling. In addition to  this, all of the system controllers could be accessed via a wireless  network, which allowed us to position engineers at key listening points  with direct control over the system’s gain, EQ, delay and so on.”

“A further constraint was that due to river traffic, the speaker  pontoons could not be positioned until just 15 minutes before the event  started. With such little margin for error the Shure systems were an  obvious choice because their reliability is second to none.”

As the pontoons were being towed up the river from Docklands, I was  in radio communication with the onboard engineers and they had clear RF  from about a mile away. Considering that we only needed to transmit for a  few hundred metres once the pontoons were in position, we knew  immediately that signal strength was not going to be an issue.”

“The whole event went extremely well. The main part of the show ran  for approximately two hours and the Shure systems worked seamlessly  throughout. Having used a number of 1-Watt links in the past, we were  very impressed with the strength and quality of the audio.”

“The Shure gear sounds great and is very straightforward to set up,  making our lives very easy. And having equipment of this quality to hand  gives us the confidence to push the boundaries even further on future  events.”

Gear List

Model Number Quantity Description
PSM 900 The Shure PSM® 900 Wireless Personal Monitor System offers excellent audio quality and reliable RF performance to meet the needs of professional audio applications.